"In comedy you invariably offend someone"
Anuvab Pal on comedy, society and the hazards of being a stand-up comic!
Anuvab Pal is a man of many talents. An internationally renowned playwright, scriptwriter and stand-up comic, Anuvab’s witty take on politics, relationships and societal trends through his plays and stand up acts have won him a lot of fans over the years. Pal is in Dubai for a performance along with Rohan Joshi and Tanmay Bhatt organized by The Laughter Factory. The show will take place on Thursday April 19, 2012 at 9pm, at Al Thuraya Ballroom, Grand Millennium at Teacom. Masala.com caught up with him for a quick chat.
Can you tell us more about your performance in Dubai?
It's a lot of stories about living in modern India and how different it is from the India I grew up in. That sounds somewhat boring and like a history lesson but hopefully, it won't be! I believe elements of what is being called the "new" India is much funnier in reality than having to create jokes.
After ‘Loins Of Punjab Presents’ and ‘The President Is Coming’, are you working on any other film scripts?
Yes, a Bollywood romantic comedy involving cooking is up next. We hope to start shooting in September.
What is the next play you are working on?
My new play opened in Mumbai last Saturday. It's called ‘The Bureaucrat’. My last play that travelled to Dubai was ‘Chaos Theory’ with Rage Productions. Hopefully this will come to Dubai as well.
Indian cinema is going through an exciting where varied subjects are being accepted (even if they don’t make the blockbuster status!). Which recent film has impressed you?
‘Rocket Singh’ was enjoyable. I used to be a sales guy for a while, I wasn't a Sikh computer salesman but the way it captured corporate India was clever. Like a lot of urban Indians, I enjoy Dibakar Banerjee's movies.
How has the stand-up comedy act changed in India over the last few years?
There is a scene now. It's moved beyond parties and corporate nights to an actual scene where there are clubs and people perform etc.
Which stand up comedians have inspired you (from India and abroad) and why?
I like comedians who make you think about society, politics, economics and history. As they say, in everything funny, there should be something insightful. Now that sounds deeper than how it was meant to be but what I'm trying to say is that taboo stuff is easy to portray through comedy. Going beyond it, providing insight in everyday stuff is hard. I like a lot of British comedians because they do that.
Currently, who do you think is the best stand-up comedian in India?
That's a tough one to answer but the guys working in the scene today, Tanmay, Rohan and Rajneesh Kapoor are all very funny.
What were your first impressions about Dubai? What aspects of the city would you like to incorporate into your comic acts?
Dubai was going to be the future of the world for a while. I think it still might be. I think a combination of Dubai and Singapore is really the ultimate dream for the Mumbai upper middle classes. I remember some years ago I went to a mall in Dubai and there was a massive shark in an aquarium while people around shopped for Armani and so on. I wondered how confusing it must be for the shark! That memory of Dubai has stuck with me.
How difficult is it to perform before a multi-cultural audience? Do you consider the cultural sensitivity of the audience while writing your acts?
I really feel with technology being as mobile as it is, good or bad, the world in general consumes the same culture now. We all read the same stuff, watch the same movies...it's good and bad in a way.
What advice would you give aspiring comedians in Dubai?
Wow! Ummm...I would say, look for humour and life around you rather than famous comedians’ routines and analysing why they are funny. This sounds very school teacher-ish. I apologise! It's all instinct, there's really no lesson unlike, I don't know, learning Sanskrit!
Of late, it has been noticed that people are overly sensitive about petty matters. Why do you think people get so offended easily? Have you ever had to tone down any of your acts because it could potentially hurt people’s sentiments?
It's comedy. You are invariably making fun of someone or something and someone or something depending on their levels of modesty, self-worth, may or may not get offended. There's nothing one can do. It's an occupational hazard - like traffic in Mumbai. One just lives with it.
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